Case study / Leeds Playhouse

Yorkshire-based Gamma Illumination helps Leeds Playhouse realise its aspirations 

Project requirements

The Leeds Playhouse of today officially opened its doors as West Yorkshire Playhouse in March 1990 and was Britain’s largest new purpose built theatre for 15 years.  The event was marked with Donald Sinden turning the first sod in November 1987, Judi Dench laying the first foundation stone in March 1989 and Albert Finney performing the topping-out ceremony in September 1989.

As it approached its 30th anniversary, the theatre had begun to show its age and the building hadn’t kept up with aspirations. To address this, it embarked on a £15.8m landmark redevelopment project which would create a theatre that was accessible to everyone; an entrance that embraced the city; versatility across three scales with the inclusion of the Bramall Rock Void Studio, and the ability to generate more of its own income, reduce costs and cut its impact on the environment.

Project solutions

Gamma Illumination was chosen as the project lighting partner as it was able to provide an SLL LG compliant lighting design and supply a complete project solution.  Areas included three theatres, a bar, restaurant, circulation areas, offices, workshops, changing rooms, stores and plant rooms.

Gamma supplied over 1600 luminaires for the project, from its Proflux, Great White, Sysion, Duro, Syncro, Echo, Topaz and Jingo ranges.  All were supplied with a 3000 K colour temperature to create a warm and welcoming feel, whilst a range of lumen outputs addressed the different ceiling heights.  Gamma also provided a host of emergency luminaires and exit signs.

In addition, Gamma supplied the exterior colour change solution that would light up the façade, attracting attention and emphasising the different colours in the beautiful ceramic panels.  This was built around a RGB and white multi-chip linear board with DMX controls.

Project results

Although the project had its challenges, including a number of lighting design revisions due to unforeseen changes in the build, the key partners and client are extremely happy with the result.

A spokesperson for the main contractor, BAM Construct UK, commented:  “Due to the knowledge within Gamma’s lighting design team, they were able to foresee potential issues and address them before the design was signed off.  These included accessibility for maintenance and cleaning, central battery conversions to suit the project requirements, along with a simple plug and play solution to reduce the installation time on site.

“Gamma’s vast product range meant that we were able to utilise the many different types of fittings from the same ranges allowing us to keep a consistent look throughout the project. Their flexible and quick deliveries proved invaluable due to the ongoing changes to the scheme.”